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Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Thursday, 18 November 2010

Robert Pires completes move to Aston Villa

Robert Pires training with Arsenal in October
Pires has been training with Arsenal in recent weeks

Aston Villa have signed former Arsenal winger Robert Pires on a six-month contract.

The 37-year-old was released by Spanish club Villarreal in the summer and was available as a free agent.

Pires could make his Villa debut at Blackburn on Sunday if the club receive international clearance.

"I can't wait to play and put on that new shirt," Pires told Villa's website. "I am very happy to join Aston Villa because it's a big club in England."

Pires helped France win the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship as well as winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal.

The Frenchman, who spent six years with the Gunners and was voted their sixth greatest player of all time in an online poll, had been training with his former manager Arsene Wenger at Arsenal's training ground recently.

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His arrival at Villa Park will be a boost for manager Gerard Houllier's squad which has been depleted this month by injuries to strikers John Carew and Emile Heskey and midfielders Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell.

"I am also thrilled to have the chance of working with Gerard Houllier," added Pires. "I know him.

"I had a good opportunity two months ago to train with Arsenal and thanks to Arsene Wenger for that.

"Now this move represents a new opportunity and a new challenge for me."

Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister believes the signing of Pires will be beneficial to the promising youngsters at the club, while giving the midfielder the chance to prove he is still an effective force.

"For all the younger players - what a tremendous addition," said McAllister. "The younger players can only learn from watching a guy like Robert on the training field.

"He will gain respect. But I am sure Robert Pires isn't coming here just to be a player that everyone is going to stand back and admire.

"He will want to gain the respect of the fact that he is still competitive and still able to do a job at this level."

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see also
Sidwell set for six-week lay-off
09 Nov 10 |  Aston Villa
Villa rocked by Carew injury blow
05 Nov 10 |  Aston Villa
Heskey knee injury blow for Villa
04 Nov 10 |  Aston Villa
Villa suffer fresh Petrov setback
02 Nov 10 |  Aston Villa
Pires agrees deal with Villarreal
25 May 06 |  Arsenal

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